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Two New Species of Rails (Aves: Rallidae) from Mangaia , Southern Cook Islands

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Title: Two New Species of Rails (Aves: Rallidae) from Mangaia , Southern Cook Islands
Authors: Steadman, David W.
Issue Date: 1986
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Steadman DW. 1986. Two new species of rails (Aves: Rallidae) from Mangaia, Southern Cook Islands. Pac Sci 40: 27-43.
Abstract: Two species of rails, Porzana rua n. sp. and Gallirallus ripleyi n.
sp., are described from bones of late Holocene age found in caves on Mangaia,
southern Cook Islands. Their relatively small pectoral elements show that both
of these species were flightless. Porzana rua resembles most closely the living P.
atra of Henderson Island and the recently extinct P. monasa of Kosrae Island,
Carolines. Gallirallus ripleyi is most similar to the recently extinct G. wakensis of
Wake Island. Some combination of predation and habitat alteration by humans
and introduced mammals (rats, dogs, and pigs) is probably responsible for the
extinction of P. rua and G. ripleyi within the past 1000 years. Fossils of a third
species of rail from the Mangaian caves are referred to the living species Porzana
tabuensis , although these specimens may represent an undescribed subspecies.
Porzana tabuensis might survive on Mangaia and elsewhere in the southern Cook
Islands, although entire specimens have never been collected . An X ray of the
only two specimens (skins) of Porzana monasa (Kittlitz) shows that this species
from Kosrae (Kusai) Island, Carolines, was flightless or nearly so. It is likely that
all islands in the Pacific were inhabited by one or more species of flightless rail
before the arrival of humans. In both Porzana and Gallirallus, at least one early
wave of colonization produced flightless species throughout Oceania, followed
by a less thorough and much more recent (probably late Holocene) wave of
colonization by the volant P. tabuensis and G. philippensis.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 40, Numbers 1-4, 1986

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